South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen hunting Tony Finau at PGA Tour’s Mexico Open

South African golfer Erik Van Rooyen competes during the second round of the Mexico Open. Picture: Francisco Guasco/EPA

South African golfer Erik Van Rooyen competes during the second round of the Mexico Open. Picture: Francisco Guasco/EPA

Published Apr 29, 2023


Mexico City, Mexico - American Tony Finau shot a seven-under par 64 at the PGA Mexico Open on Friday to grab the second-round lead on 13-under.

The Vidanta course in Puerto Vallarta is a happy hunting ground for Finau, who matched the course record of 63 in his final round last year when he ended tied for second behind Spain’s Jon Rahm.

That result sparked an upturn in form for Finau, who went on to win three events in seven starts with victories in Minnesota, Detroit and the Houston Open.

"This was a place where a lot of things changed for me last season," Finau said.

"I was able to post a second-place finish and just have a nice final round, make some putts that were very important and then it carried me into a very nice finish to last season."

Starting on the back nine, Finau made five birdies by the turn, including three in a row before heading to the first hole.

He strung together three more successive birdies just before a bogey on his penultimate hole, the eighth, ruined his chances of another course record-equaling score.

The bogey was just Finau's second in 36 holes after his first-round 65 on Thursday.

"I played really nicely over the last couple days, was able to capitalize with the putter on shots that I hit pretty close," he said. "That was probably the biggest story."

But the 33-year-old, who has five career PGA wins, knows there is plenty of work ahead.

"This isn't a time to get ahead of myself," Finau said. "After 36 holes I'm playing nicely, find myself at the top. With my experience, we're only halfway, there's so much golf to be played.

"You always want to say that you have what it takes to win a golf tournament. I think luckily for me, I've done that a few times over the last year."

South African Erik van Rooyen and American Brandon Wu were a stroke back, van Rooyen carding a 66 and Wu climbing the leaderboard with a seven-under par 64.

Wu shook off an opening bogey to card eight birdies, that included a chip-in birdie at the par-three ninth and three straight birdies to end his round.

That pulled him level with van Rooyen, who had seven birdies and two bogeys in his five-under effort.

First-round leader Austin Smotherman, who captured his first professional title at the 2018 Mexico Open when it was part of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica developmental circuit, was among a group of five players sharing fourth on 133.

Rahm six adrift

Masters champion Rahm, the world number one, carded a three-under par 68 that left him six shots off the lead on seven-under 135.

Spain's Rahm rolled in a 42-foot eagle putt at the par-five sixth and followed that with a birdie at the seventh. But he found the water for a double bogey at the ninth and bogeyed the 10th before birdies at 11, 12 and 14. After a bogey at 16, he closed his round with a birdie at the last.

"For a round that for the most part was good, there were two or three swings that were bad that cost me a little bit too much today," Rahm said. "A couple of unforced errors."


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